The Effect of Heat on the Body

blog-heatBeing outdoors in the beautiful sunshine is one of the best motivators to be physically active. You can play sports, go for a run or a hike, all while enjoying spring and summer weather. It sounds great, but when the temperature rises beyond your comfort level, you need to exercise with caution. Our bodies produce their own heat and lose water when we exercise, which is only magnified in a hot environment. There are four types of heat-related illness to be aware of. We will review each and offer tips to avoid them.

Heat Cramps

As we sweat, our bodies lose sodium. Heat cramps often occur in the abdomen, arms and legs as a painful muscle spasm. If you experience this feeling, stop exercising immediately. Heat cramps can be prevented with proper fluid and sodium replacement.

Heat Syncope

Syncope is the act of fainting. If you are not properly hydrated while performing a high-intensity physical activity, blood flow to the brain can be reduced, causing you to faint. Alcohol should be avoided in hot weather. If you feel lightheaded, move into the shade.

Heat Exhaustion

The opposite of hypothermia, hyperthermia is the result of water and electrolyte loss. You’re unable to finish your workout due to nausea, headache and dizziness. To prevent heat exhaustion, avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and wear lightweight clothing.

Heat Stroke

The most serious of all four conditions, heat stroke happens when your core body temperature surpasses 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit. Confusion, loss of muscle control, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and seizure are all signs that you’re suffering from heat stroke. You can prevent this from happening to you by staying hydrated, protected from the sun and avoiding strenuous activities in hot weather.

Heat-related illness and death are preventable, but sometimes we push ourselves to the limit to reach a fitness goal. Try to remember that your overall well-being is more important on hot days than overexerting yourself and putting your health at risk. Stay hydrated and work out in an air-conditioned facility when the temperature exceeds safe levels.

At North Haven Health and Racquet, we have all of your fitness needs in one place! Contact us today to learn more about our amenities.